Corporate Research E-Letter No. 1, June 2000
Introduction to CCCR [Note: CCCR is now known as the Corporate Research Project]
An Introduction to CCCR
To begin with, let me explain what CCCR is all about. The Center was created by six regional support centers serving community organizations around the country. The six centers are: Northeast Action, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, Southern Organizing Co-Operative, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Western States Center and Midwest States Center.
The purpose of CCCR is to assist groups such as yours in campaigns for economic and environmental justice. Specifically, CCCR exists to provide assistance in strategic research. The Center takes on research projects itself, but we also train staffers and activists to do research on your own. We also provide access to data sources that may be too expensive or inconvenient for your group to use yourself. Finally, we work with groups to figure out how the research can best be used to strategic advantage in your campaigns.
CCCR can handle work relating to small, privately-held companies as well as giant publicly-traded corporations. We're not limited to specific industries. We've done work on everything from agribusiness and mining to prisons, banks and healthcare. While our specialty is corporate research, we can also help with research projects on non-profits, legislation, public policy, etc.
CCCR's services are available at no charge to groups affiliated with the six networks. We can do this thanks to progressive funders such as the Needmor Fund, the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, the New World Foundation, the Tides Foundation and the Ottinger Foundation.
Recent CCCR Research Projects
To give you a better idea of what CCCR does--and to facilitate information sharing--each issue of this newsletter will describe some of the recent projects that CCCR has been asked to undertake.
* For the Public Safety & Justice Campaign, which was launched by Grassroots Leadership (an affiliate of the Southern Organizing Co-Operative), CCCR produced two reports to assist the campaign's work against prison privatization. One report profiled Pacific Life Insurance Company, which is helping to bail out Prison Realty Trust/Corrections Corporation of America; the other was an analysis of strategic campaign possibilities relating to Wackenhut Corrections Corp. and its parent Wackenhut Corp.
* For the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, CCCR produced a profile of agribusiness in Idaho. This included creating a list of the largest farms and packing operations in the state, obtaining a list of all the farm labor contractors in Idaho registered with the federal government and analyzing state campaign contributions by the large farm and food processing interests. This information will assist an ongoing campaign to extend minimum-wage protection to Idaho's farmworkers.
* For the Western Organization of Resource Councils, which is initiating a campaign on food safety issues, CCCR produced a report on state-level legislative measures relating to biotechnology, hazardous substances in fertilizer, country-of-origin labeling, etc. This will help WORC plan its legislative offensive.
* For Maine People's Alliance (an affiliate of Northeast Action), CCCR is looking at the major health insurance providers operating in the state to document waste, excessive executive compensation and other information that will bolster the group's arguments in favor of single-payer coverage.
Useful Information: Predatory Lenders and Wall Street
Each issue of the Corporate Research E-Letter will contain some information on business trends that may help in your work.
It's long been known that the poor pay more when it comes to a variety of goods and services. Recently there's been a flurry of publicity about the way in which poor and low-income homeowners are conned into mortgage loans with excessively high interest rates and fees. These loans are promoted by a category of unscrupulous mortgage brokers known as predatory lenders. They make up part of the world more politely known as "subprime lenders," which is derived from the fact that these lenders focus on higher-risk borrowers who aren't deemed worthy of borrowing at or near the prime lending rate.
Predatory and other forms of subprime lending are not carried out only by small, fly-by-night operators. In fact, some of the country's largest financial institutions engage in the practice. What's more, the money used by subprime lenders to make their dubious loans is raised with the help of some of Wall Street's largest investment banks. Here is some information on the largest subprime lenders and their main sources of capital:
Largest Originators of Subprime Loans
name of company
dollar volume of loans originated in 1st quarter, 2000
1. Household Financial Services
(subsidiary of Household International)
Prospect Heights, IL
$3.05 billion (est.)
2. Associates Home Equity
(subsidiary of Associates First Capital Corp.)
(subsidiary of Bank of America)
(subsidiary of CitiGroup)
5. Option One Mortgage Corp.
(subsidiary of H&R Block)
source: National Mortgage News, May 29, 2000
Leading Subprime Mortgage Security Underwriters in 1999
1. Lehman Brothers -- $11.5 billion
2. Merrill Lynch -- $6.9 billion
3. Bank of America -- $6.4 billion
4. Greenwich Capital Markets -- $6.2 billion
5. Prudential Securities -- $6.0 billion
6. Salomon Smith Barney -- $5.7 billion
source: Business Week, April 24, 2000
-- Philip Mattera